There was no drama and zero intrigue as Liverpool and FC Porto played out a bloodless 0-0 draw on Tuesday night at Anfield. The Reds had secured passage to the quarterfinals with their blistering away performance two weeks ago and both teams seemed to know it. Maybe this wasn’t the euphoric European night that many would have hoped for to mark Liverpool’s return to the Champions League knockout rounds, but it got the job done nonetheless.
After, Klopp lauded the team’s fantastic attitude both during the game and in the preparation for it.
“Probably if you draw in the first game, the away game in the knockout stage, then you win at home it feels maybe different than tonight,” Klopp admitted, “but the maximum you can reach and achieve is the next round and we did that in quite a comfortable way. I don’t think it could have been expected [before the tie], so I am really happy about it tonight. It was a big challenge for us, to be honest, in the preparation, it was different to other games, of course. I think the boys did really well - we showed a fantastic attitude, a few pieces of really nice football and we defended very serious.”
Next up is a huge game against Manchester United which can go a long way to deciding where Liverpool end up in the table this season. With United two points ahead of them at the moment, a victory would see Liverpool leap frog over them with only eight games remaining.
It was useful that Klopp was able to rest key players such as Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk in preparation for the match on Saturday. United, on the other hand, will have to think about their own Round of 16 match against Sevilla that will be played next Tuesday.
What does Klopp think about the advantage Liverpool might gain from Manchester United having to split their focus?
“Manchester United are very experienced and very fit, as we saw last night - they can score late, so I don’t think they are too worried about playing on Saturday and then again on Tuesday,” he answered. “Actually, we didn’t think for a second when we played Newcastle that we had to play on Tuesday again. That’s how our life is - do what you have to do and after that, start thinking about the next step. No, I don’t think it’s an advantage. It’s just another game.”
Another 0-0 draw won’t be enough on Saturday, so now that it’s mission accomplished in the Champions League, hopefully they can return to their free scoring best when they come up against the Mourinho parked bus at Old Trafford.